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Kansas Tea Partier Tim Huelskamp: Another Irate Obamacare Customer

Politics Tribune News Service

Kansas Tea Partier Tim Huelskamp: Another Irate Obamacare Customer

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Health Insurance, Federal Exchange, Obamacare, Politics, Kansas, Tim Heulskamp, Tea Party Caucus

By Lindsay Wise, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Texas Senator Ted Cruz isn’t the only ardent critic of Obamacare in Congress who is signing up for health coverage under a law he’s vowed to repeal.

Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp, chairman of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, admits he, too, has enrolled for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, despite repeatedly voting to repeal it.

“For the record — I am on Obamacare — yee-hah!” Huelskamp recently confessed to constituents at a town hall meeting in north central Kansas, according to The Clay Center Dispatch. “My wife complains about it all the time.”

Cruz, Huelskamp, and other far-right lawmakers are in an awkward political position: Do they use an Obamacare exchange to purchase insurance, and risk being charged with hypocrisy? Or do they stand on principle and decline coverage or resort to the private insurance market, thereby giving up thousands of federal dollars offered to government employees to help pay premiums?

They have a choice. Some are choosing Obamacare.

Cruz, a Republican senator who is running for president, said this week that his family planned to go on Obamacare because they’d no longer be able to get health coverage through his wife’s employer. She’s taking unpaid leave from her job to join Cruz on the campaign trail.

Like Cruz, Huelskamp has railed for years against Obamacare — in speeches in Congress, on the stump during elections, in town hall meetings with voters, in emails to donors, and in statements to the press and on television.

In a petition Huelskamp circulated among supporters to de-fund Obamacare, he described the health care law as a “disaster” and the “most despised legislation in recent American history.”

Asked whether he sees any contradiction between his outspoken opposition to Obamacare and his family’s enrollment, Huelskamp said in a written statement that the law forces members of Congress to sign up.

Like millions of other American families, he said, “we object to this expensive, liberty-attacking mandate.”

It’s true that members of Congress who want to take advantage of health benefits offered through their employer — the federal government — must use plans offered through a government-run exchange in the District of Columbia.

But that’s not the whole story.

Huelskamp could have foregone coverage completely, or shunned the exchange and purchased a family health plan directly from a private broker.

Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX), decided to go without health insurance rather than sign up for Obamacare. Some other lawmakers have said they would go through the private market to avoid the exchanges, including Representative Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Representative Diane Black of Tennessee, both Republicans.

But purchasing insurance on the private market would mean Huelskamp, a married father of four children, would have to forgo the employer contribution that the government offers to offset the cost of members’ premiums.

That contribution could be worth nearly $1,000 per month for members with families, according to the Congressional Research Office.

The salary for a rank-and-file member of Congress is $174,000 a year.

Huelskamp, like some other House members, already saves on rent in Washington by crashing nightly on his office couch with a sleeping bag — which he says allows him to get more work done.

Some members have said they will use the exchanges to purchase health care, but plan to return the federal contribution money to the U.S. Treasury.

Huelskamp’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request to clarify whether Huelskamp had accepted federal dollars to help pay for his premium.

It’s still Huelskamp’s hope to repeal Obamacare, which he describes as a government monstrosity.

He isn’t very happy with his Obamacare plan, anyway, he said in his statement.

“Because of Obamacare, my premiums and deductible went up — and my coverage went down,” Huelskamp said.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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13 Comments

  1. JPHALL March 27, 2015

    Isn’t funny that right wingers always tell others to stand up and liberate themselves from feeding at the government trough. But they then refuse to give up the government goodies for themselves or their friends.

    Reply
  2. Dominick Vila March 27, 2015

    Hypocrisy, cynicism, and inconsistency are an integral part of politics, but seldom have we seen as much of those negative attributes as we do now. From the ACA, to foreign policy, to shifting positions on the use of marijuana, the GOP changes positions with the frequency of a sail boat, and their supporters don’t seem to mind.
    Using ACA exchanges to get quality healthcare and, potentially, subsidized healthcare, at affordable prices is a no brainer, even for Republican politicians.
    In my opinion, their incendiary rhetoric whenever the “Obamacare” topic is broached has more to do with the need to satisfy the most ignorant members of the GOP base, rather than conviction or even determination to repeal a legislation that has already helped millions of Americans get the insurance coverage they need. Don’t be surprised if some time in the not too distant future a few changes are made and the ACA becomes an acceptable option under a patriotic name…all thanks to the Republican legislators that, allegedly, saved it from itself to ensure all Americans get the healthcare we deserve.

    Reply
    1. jointerjohn March 28, 2015

      They stuck Obama’s name on it, persist on trying to portray him as the antichrist, and now they are between a rock and a hard place. It works, it is a vast improvement to the previous disastrous system, and they gave the naming rights to the other side. Dumbasses wiggling to escape their own evil trap.

      Reply
  3. Eleanore Whitaker March 27, 2015

    TX, OK, IA, KS, WI….The Okee doke states. They wouldn’t last 1 week in progressive states where the hectic life is the rule, not the exception. So..These okee dokes get out of bed at noon, when the rest of the busy states have already put a full day in at work. These freeloaders work through the growing season and then, have the entire winter to spend on computers where they think they will alter life on planet earth as we know it.

    Yet, the joke is? These are the states where their idle kids are making meth in the back seats of cars in ten times the proportions elsewhere. These are the states where Big Daddy struts and swaggers armed to the teeth and McWifey always walks 2 steps behind her king. Yeesh…are these people “ignernt?”

    Reply
  4. kentallard March 27, 2015

    I would argue that hypocrisy is the greatest sin of all.

    We are human, with human frailties. We make mistakes. Occasionally we do things we are not proud of in moments of weakness or passion. We can forgive others for these frailties because of our own.

    What we all have trouble forgiving is someone who willfully does something contrary to their purported value system because of expediency, greed, or stone cold narcissism.

    These fools who have demonized Obama and his health care program – a program that helps the least among us get what the folks with lots of money have.

    Rich pampered white guys who mock, deride, and demonize a man for trying to do good for his fellow man, and now take advantage of the very thing they demonize.

    They are beneath contempt, scum of the first order, hypocrites supreme.

    Reply
    1. dpaano April 21, 2015

      And, lest we forget, Obamacare was basically a Republican program before President Obama decided to make it a law!! They’re just mad because they didn’t get the credit for doing this first!!

      Reply
      1. kentallard April 21, 2015

        Damn straight.

        Reply
  5. Carolyn1520 March 27, 2015

    Another pig chowing down at the public trough but wanting to deny the rights of others to do so.
    It’s so hard to mask the disdain I feel for these selfish, hypocritical creatures.

    Reply
  6. gococksri March 27, 2015

    Does this mean that he, along with Cruz, could, in their terminology, be considered “takers?”

    We know they aren’t “makers.” Hence…

    Reply
  7. Exx Bahx March 28, 2015

    If today’s liberals will callously murder the unborn, why would anyone trust them with centralized power over medical care?

    Reply
    1. jointerjohn March 28, 2015

      The Affordable Care Act does not centralize power over medical care. Medical care is still provided by the open marketplace, a system invented by conservatives.

      Reply
  8. Barrington September April 6, 2015

    First … the actual Obamacare Law’s name is: Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA). People always ignore or forget the patient protection part.
    Every American citizen and legal resident have already benefitted from Obamacare, even if they do not sign up through one of the PPACA exchanges. Everyone including the Obama-hating racist bigots, hard-core right wing Republican partisans and members of the various right-wing hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi groups.
    How & why … because of many minimum standards that all plans must meet, including no rejection due to pre-existing medical conditions among many others.
    Hospitals are happy and saving money, because their emergency rooms are no longer crowded with low-income folk with no insurance, who use the ER as their private doctor for free (a law President Reagan signed in the 1980s). There are about many really good protections for all citizens and legal residents.

    Reply
  9. dpaano April 21, 2015

    What’s truly ridiculous is that most of these congress men and women are millionaires and can afford to purchase private insurance without taking from money that we taxpayers have paid into the government! But, they are greedy and would rather “take” from the middle class than give!! I’m tired of their whining about being “forced” to sign up for Obamacare (PPACA)…they aren’t being forced….it’s their own decision!! If they’re so unhappy, then they just need to go out into the private insurance world and purchase insurance there….they can certainly afford it on their salaries (also paid for by we taxpayers)!!!

    Reply

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